Readings: Job 19:21-27; Luke 10:1-12
On one hand, Jesus’ instructions to the seventy-two disciples he is sending out ahead of him are very freeing. On the other hand, he does not pretend that they’ll evade rejection by following his directives. That’s part and parcel of being a disciple of Jesus; the Gospel is hardly a blue-print for success. How we get from what Jesus plainly teaches to the “gospel of prosperity” is inexplicable. I can only call it a form of denial.
Commitment to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is costly. Its joys are not on the order of self-fulfillment and success but ultimately lead to Calvary. That’s not the last stop on this adventure but it looms large. Yet Christians continue to be surprised, even feeling annoyed and cheated, when the road gets rough.
For all hagiographers underline the lyricism and sprightliness of Francis of Assisi, I believe that effervescence only characterized the initial stage of his conversion. And it’s no place to remain, as unstable and misleading as infatuation and romance in a marriage.
Afterwards, he was dealt hard-choices and their consequences, disappointments, organizational conflicts, betrayals and physical suffering, all of which was the crucible of a genuine joy–perhaps the only path to genuine joy.